Varoujan Asadour Chalian

August 17, 2023


Dr. Varoujan Asadour Chalian, 95, of Indianapolis and Bloomington, Ill., passed away on August 17, 2023, surrounded by his loving family.


Known as Varoujan, Dad, Jan, John, Uncle Varoujan, Uncle John, Babig, Bab or Dr. Chalian, he was a man who believed in FAMILY like no other.   He was born to Yeranouhi (Chamsarian) and Asadour Chalian survivors of the Armenian Genocide on August 29, 1927, in Beirut, Lebanon.  He was the second of five children and his value of family grew from the love that he had for his parents and siblings.  He in turn passed this strong foundation on to his children and saw it grow and flourish among his nieces and nephews as he saw their relationships grow.  Nothing made him more proud of this strong bond. He was equally proud of being a Hadjintsi. They were raised in the Hadjin neighborhood in Beirut among friends from their home village in Cilicia Western Armenia.


He married Zarouhi Izmirlian in 1961, and they moved to Indianapolis and started a family.  They had four children who were his pride and joy.  His sons, Ara and Vicken, ‘the doctors’ that he shared so proudly.  His daughters, Luci and Sona that he was just as proud of in their respective careers and the lives they created and live.  He did not meet too many people with whom he could not resist sharing what each of their accomplishments were.  He loved being ‘babig’ playing and sharing our heritage and stories with his grandkids in their youth, celebrating their academic and extracurricular accomplishments and was able to see his first grandchild get married last year!  His Armenian roots and spirit were interwoven in to his being.  He instilled this spirit in his children and it was present in their home through language, food and perpetuating the Armenian Cause, justice for the Armenian Genocide and a safe future for independent Armenia.  


He and Zaroug loved to entertain and had their door open to anyone who needed a place for the holidays or a place to sleep when they came to town. Their home and dining room was often considered the United Nations.  Varoujan had a great partner in Zaroug who knew how to welcome anyone with open arms and make them family.   Food was another expression of their love.  His signature dishes were hummus and tabouleh.  


Varoujan also had what many would say or at least his children would… ‘je ne sais quoi” – “I know not what”…his ability to motivate, drive and mentor whoever he crossed paths with.  Many in the last few days have said your dad was the reason I came to this country, or your dad was my mentor and why I chose my career in dentistry/maxillofacial prosthodontics. Your dad helped me make this decision.  Your dad was the anchor of our family, and so much more. He was an advocate for his patients, students, colleagues and loved ones in a way like no other.   Many who trained under him said Varoujan and Zaroug provided a second family and a place to call home because they were always welcome.  


Varoujan had years of higher learning beginning with the Armenian College in Beirut, Lebanon where he graduated in 1945 and Ecole de Chirurgie Dentaire et de Stomatologie in Paris France, graduating in 1955 with a D.D.S.  Then, he graduated from Indiana University School of Dentistry, in 1964 with a D.D.S and in 1968 with a M.S.D.  He interned at Hotel Dieu de paris Hopsital in Paris, France and the Massachusetts Cancer Hospital in Westfield, MA. He then did a residency at Philadelphia General Hospital and finished his residency in Maxillofical Prosthetics at M.D. Anderson in Houston Texas.  His real pride and joy was being among the first graduates of the Armenian School in Beirut led by the leaders of the first Republic of Armenia called the Neshan Palandjian Jemaran.  His classmates became his lifelong friends.


Varoujan came to Indiana University in 1960 to establish a department in Maxillofacial Prosthodontics.  He created and Chaired the department and trained others to bring the specialty to other cities throughout the United States and world.   During his tenure at IU he he rose rapidly through the academic ladder to the rank of Professor and Director of the Maxillofacial Prosthetics Clinic and and Professor of the Indiana School of Dentistry and Indiana University School of Medicine.  He ended his career as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Maxillofacial Prosthetics.  


He was a fellow of the American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists, American College of Prosthodontics and Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics.  He was a President of the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthetics, a recipient of the Andrew J. Ackerman Award of the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthetics, and in 1984 received the Distinguished Teaching Award at Indiana University. He lectured on the subject of maxillofacial prosthetic education in the United States and abroad.  He published numerous articles and was an author and contributing author to many books.   His book ‘Maxillofacial Prosthetics – A Multidisciplinary Practice’ was the specialty defining book for decades. He served in various leadership roles throughout his career with different organizations.

His passion in retirement remained staying up to date with family and friends.  He followed and remained active in Armenian causes and organizations in particular the Armenian National Committee of America. 


Dad will be missed but our memories and “quotables” of him will always be with us.  


Varoujan is survived by his children Dr. Ara (Talar) Chalian, Dr. Vicken Chalian, Luci Chalian, Sona (John) Cleary; grandchildren Ani Chalian, Lena (Michael) Elzanati, Ara Chalian and Shirag Chalian; brother Zareh (Annie) Chalian; sister Maro Read; sister-in-law Maral Chalian; and 10 nieces and nephews.  He is preceded in death by his wife Zarouhi Chalian; brothers Garo and Toros Chalian; sisters-in-law Ani Chalian, Takouhi Kirkyasharian, Osanna Izmirlian,  and Audrey Izmirlian; and brothers-in-law Hratch Kirkyasharian and Asadour Izmirlian.

Visitation from 10am to 11am, Saturday September 16th at. St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church 8701 Ridge Ave. Philadelphia, Pa 19128.  The funeral service will follow at 11am in the church. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to two groups that Varoujan was a lifelong supporter:

Armenian National Committee Eastern Region (ANC ER) (   [Live link ] (ANCA Eastern Region 80 Bigelow Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472 - include In Memory of Varoujan A. Chalian DDS in memo field) -  

or to M and H Arslanian Djemaran School  (Payable to Hamazkayin Endowment Fund include In Memory of Varoujan A. Chalian DDS and Djemaran in memo field -  if by check mail to c/o Varoujan Chalian, P.O. Box 1345, Paoli, PA  19301).

( Live link  the web link allows choice of M and H Arslanian Djemaran and to add in memory of Varoujan A.Chalian DDS.

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September 16, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church
8701 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19128

Funeral Service
September 16, 2023

11:00 AM
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church
8701 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19128


Armenian National Committee Eastern Region (ANC ER)
80 Bigelow Avenue, Watertown MA 02472

M and H Arslanian Djemaran School
P.O. Box 1345, Paoli PA 19301


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